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Scientific Research

The Department of Scientific Research investigates the material aspects of works of art in the Museum's collections. Scientists in the department cooperate with conservators and curators in studying, preserving, and conserving the works in the Museum's collections, and also pursue innovative research in analytical techniques, preventive conservation, and treatment methodologies.

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Hidden Secrets of Ancient Egyptian Technology

Anna Serotta, Independent Conservator; and Federico Carò, Associate Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research

Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015

Archaeological objects and works of art in museum collections are not only treasured for their aesthetic qualities, but are also repositories of invaluable information, often concealed at a first sight, about the civilizations that created them. Among the many beautiful pieces in the collection of the Met's Department of Egyptian Art, it is interesting to note one modest stone fragment (fig.1), the scientific investigation of which has provided a clue that could solve a long-time debate among Egyptologists and historians of technologies: the use of high-performance abrasives.

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Conserving the Saint Martin Series: Technical Analysis of Fifteenth-Century Embroideries

Giulia Chiostrini, Assistant Conservator, Department of Textile Conservation

Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015

Seven embroideries, six roundels, and one arch panel depicting scenes from the life of Saint Martin are now on view in the exhibition Scenes from the Life of St. Martin: Franco-Flemish Embroidery from the Met Collection. These fifteenth-century textiles were embroidered with dyed silk, silver, and gilt–silver metal threads on a linen plain weave underlaid with two layers of linen plain weave (fig. 1).

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Restoring Bhairava's Ear

Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In 2012, this imposing Bhairava's mask came to the Museum as a part of an important donation from The Zimmerman Family Collection, and it is now on display in the newly renovated gallery 252. The sixteenth-century gilt and polychrome copper mask of Bhairava from Nepal had a significant loss to its appearance—its right ear was missing, and its attribute, a large copper pendant earring for the left ear, had been used as a substitute.

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Beneath the Surface: Technical Analysis of a Vajrabhairava Figurine

Mandira Chhabra, Assistant Conservator, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India; Daniel Hausdorf, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015

A gift to the Museum in 1949, this image of Vajrabhairava was not placed on display for many years (fig. 1). In conjunction with the work's display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, however, the Departments of Objects Conservation and Scientific Research examined this figure in order to shed light on the materials and the production technique of this unusual representation.

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The Dyes Have It: Exploring Color and Tapestries

Sarah Mallory, Research Assistant, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Many #tapestrytuesday readers have asked why some tapestries in the Met's collection have such diverse color palettes. As it turns out, the question you should be asking isn't "Why?" but "Dye?" Understanding the preservation or degradation of a tapestry's color is a complex sort of query whose answer is largely influenced by the dyes used to color its threads. To help unravel the mystery of tapestry colors, I recently sat down for a fascinating lesson in dyeing with two of the Museum's tapestry experts: Cristina Carr, conservator in the Department of Textile Conservation; and Nobuko Shibayama, associate research scientist in the Department of Scientific Research.

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Understanding Photographic Processes

Silvia Centeno, Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research

Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2011

As a chemist in the Museum's Department of Scientific Research, I work closely with Anna Vila-Espuña, also in the Department of Scientific Research, and Nora Kennedy, in Photograph Conservation, on collaborations with Met curators to increase our understanding of methods and materials used to create paintings, works of art on paper, and photographs. This knowledge not only enlightens us about the artists' techniques, but it also aids in the care and preservation of the works.

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From Quarry to Sculpture: Understanding Provenance, Typologies, and Uses of Khmer Stones

Federico Carò, Associate Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010

The substantial collection of Khmer art at the Met comprises pre-Angkor and Angkor freestanding sculptures and architectural elements from Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Like the works gathered in Phnom Penh at the National Museum of Cambodia and in Paris at the Musée Guimet, these works illustrate the birth and evolution of the different Khmer styles and record changes in the sculptural artistic medium through time and across geographical areas (see map and timeline).

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Behind the Scenes: The Department of Scientific Research

Marco Leona, David H. Koch Scientist in Charge, Department of Scientific Research

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Many visitors may not realize that the Museum's staff includes ten scientists, with backgrounds in chemistry, biology, geology, or engineering. As part of the Department of Scientific Research, we study the materials and the technologies that were used in creating works of art, and we collaborate with curators and conservators on art historical studies, conservation research, and conservation treatments.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.